NAMIBIA’S government announced on Thursday that it has implemented a ban on the export of unprocessed lithium and other critical minerals, as the country aims to benefit from the growing global demand for metals essential in clean energy technologies.
Namibia possesses substantial lithium deposits, a vital component for renewable energy storage, along with rare earth minerals like dysprosium and terbium, crucial for the production of permanent magnets used in electric car batteries and wind turbines.
In a statement, Namibia’s information ministry declared, ‘Cabinet approved the prohibition of the export of certain critical minerals such as unprocessed crushed lithium ore, cobalt, manganese, graphite, and rare earth minerals.’ The ministry further specified that only limited quantities of the mentioned minerals would be permitted for export, subject to approval by the mines minister.
While Namibia is globally recognised as a leading producer of uranium and high-quality diamonds, the growing interest in its battery metals arises from the global shift away from polluting fuels towards renewable energy sources.
Last year, Namibia entered into an agreement with the European Union to supply rare earth minerals, supporting the bloc’s strategy to reduce its reliance on China for critical minerals.
Several companies involved in critical minerals projects in Namibia include Australia-listed Prospect Resources, Arcadia Minerals, and Askari Metals. Celsius Resources and Namibia Critical Metals are currently developing cobalt and rare earth projects, respectively.
Notably, Zimbabwe, another African lithium producer, implemented a ban on lithium ore exports in December last year, permitting only the shipment of concentrates. Zimbabwe intends for lithium miners operating within the country to prioritise the production of locally sourced battery-grade lithium, potentially imposing a tax on exports of lithium concentrate in the future.